Welcome to Jon’s Postlife Crisis. This episode I talk with Levi Stevenson, site manager of Wide Right & Natty Lite, SBNation’s Iowa State site.
Levi does a good job of rubbing it in that his conference will be playing football this season, while the Big Ten Conference will not. Even if something happens to prevent the Big 12 from playing, at least they’ve tried, which is more than the Big Ten and Kevin Warren did.
Let’s just say it’s a very spirited conversation.
- The Big 12 is playing football and the Big Ten is not
- Why the Big Ten made the decision it did
- Why Nebraska fans should root for Iowa State this season
- An outsider’s perspective on Scott Frost and Nebraska
- How good Iowa State is now and how good they’ll be this season
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About the Transcript
Keep in mind that the following is a transcript. I use a service that automates the first draft. As much as “artificial intelligence” is included in the description of every bit of technology these days, it’s clear that computers understanding human speech is more artificial than intelligent. The transcript has been edited to take out human speech bites, you know, um, okay, uh, but it’s not been edited to be an “article”.
Jon Johnston: Welcome to Jon’s Postlife Crisis, I am your host, Jon Johnston, founder and manager of CornNation.com, your Nebraska Cornhuskers site of massive amounts of fun even though this year has sucked a lot. This episode we’re talking with Levi Stevenson, managing editor of SBNation’s Iowa State site, Wide Right & Natty Lite. We’re going to talk about what’s going on at Iowa State University with regards to Big 12 football season, what’s going on on campus and get an outsider’s perspective on Nebraska. That sounds like a lot of stuff, doesn’t it?
Levi Stevenson: I’d ready for it. My trusty Busch Light, we’re ready to go.
Jon Johnston: I thought it was Natty Lite. What the heck?
Levi Stevenson: I can explain the name if you want.
Jon Johnston: Please, please do.
Levi Stevenson: The Busch Light Natty Lite thing is a point of confusion for a lot of people. Wide Right Natty Lite is two parts obviously. So wide right is a bunch of is a couple of different times Iowa State lost a chance to win the Big 12 north and go to the Big 12 title game in the mid 2000s because the kicker missed a missed field goals wide right against Missouri. And it was very unfortunate actually. Well, and the kick to beat Alabama in the Independence Bowl, that was a missed wide right. There’s a bunch of other ones. But then there the Natty Lite part comes from early in the twins. When Larry Eustachy was the basketball coach he got in trouble for, he got end up getting fired for it eventually. He was partying with some fraternity and sorority peoples down in Columbia, Missouri, after a game at Mizzou. And they got caught. And there’s kind of this infamous picture where he’s got he’s got his arms around to sorority girls. And it his hand in plain view, is a Natty Lite.
Jon Johnston: I remember that photo.
Levi Stevenson: But the Busch lite is is kind of a it’s a Midwest thing, but it’s definitely, it’s an Iowa thing especially. And it’s definitely an Iowa state thing. Just, if you like, go to any of the tailgate, stuff like that. Lots of people are just drinking lots and lots of Bush lite.
Jon Johnston: You haven’t graduated to craft beer.
Levi Stevenson: I mean, I like craft beer, but I mean, you know, if I just at the end of a long day and I’m just looking for something to to to wet my gullet it I mean, there’s just for a good refreshing beer.
Levi Stevenson: I like craft beer, but I’m not going to like, go out of my way to get to it because, like, so I can get thirty of these in my gas station on the way home. It can’t just go pick up craft beer.
Jon Johnston: What is going at Iowa State campus with regards to school first, school started on August 17th?
Levi Stevenson: All the students are on campus.
Levi Stevenson: They’re doing they are doing in class in in-person classes. And now a lot of professors have already kind of voluntarily taken their classes online to do it. Some have it. There’s some labs and stuff like that. One of the policy for Lab for Labs is that you every 15 minutes, you have to take a three minute break out of the room or something like that, and they’re social distancing in the classroom and stuff like that. There’s kind of some different stuff there.
Levi Stevenson: But but they are doing in classes. One of my one of my writers has in-person class, almost all in-person classes and labs and stuff like that. And I have another one that’s all online, so. It just kind of mix and depending on what major you’re in, what your professors are doing and all that stuff.
Jon Johnston: One of the things we were going to discuss or I was going to ask you about was that Iowa State was going to allow twenty five thousand fans on September 12 against Louisiana, this afternoon that was rescinded. They backtracked on that and now have stated that there will be no fans, but there will be football.
Levi Stevenson: There will be football.
Jon Johnston: You bastard. I try not to swear on my interview podcast, but that felt very good.
Levi Stevenson: I was trying to I was trying to watch my mouth.Usually, if I you can ask Philip Slavin, who runs a 10 12 podcast for I usually make a point to swear in his podcast because he hates it.
Jon Johnston: Why do you guys get football and we don’t? What do you think is the biggest difference between what’s going on with the Big Ten and what’s going on with the Big 12, the ACC and SEC.
Levi Stevenson: That’s an interesting question. I’ll tell you my theory.
Levi Stevenson: The Big Ten especially is a very prideful conference. There’s an old conference with lots of long members of Ohio State, Michigan. And all this is it’s a there’s a lot of history and tradition there. And it’s in general, it’s a pretty prideful conference. They take pride in being from the Big Ten. Not that any conference doesn’t have inter conference pride that they’re from that.
Levi Stevenson: But the SEC is like here and the Big Ten is like here as far as kind of like conference pride goes. I think they saw the situation and from everything I understand, the details got super wishy washy there for a couple of weeks. And on was there votes, was there no votes on this? It sounded like all of the power five conferences were generally kind of on the same page, sort of. And then all of a sudden out of nowhere, the Big Ten just flipped a switch and just decided to go conference only. And it caught everybody off guard.
Levi Stevenson: And I think they were and I think they did the same thing, I guess. But I think they did the same thing when they canceled outright, is that they wanted to be the first conference to say we canceled the season, we saved the world by canceling football.
Levi Stevenson: I think that’s part of it, because I think the Big Ten was expecting different conferences to go in with them because, I think they were expecting the SEC to go in with them. And in the end, that way, the Big Ten would go in and then everybody else would follow in and the Big Ten would say they led the charge and all this.
Levi Stevenson: The confusing part is that they have the same data as the SEC does. The ACC, the Big 12, they’re all working on the same numbers. They all talk to the same people. So why did the Big Ten come to this conclusion that they needed to go to conference only a week before everybody else and then canceled their season a week before or before anybody did and before anybody was even really ready to? Why did they do that? And so it didn’t really make any sense. So the Big 12 is playing football because the SEC and the ACC said, hold up. You know, the numbers look like we can do football. So I’m not sure what why the Big Ten jumped the gun. So then it was this weird little like it was like a 24 hour span where first of four, amazingly, the college football universe, like, hinged around the Big 12 because if they went with the ACC and the SEC, then we were having football. Then those three conferences were having football. If they went with the PAC 12 and the Big Ten, then they were you’d have three conferences not playing football and the ACC, the SEC might have both also canceled football. So it’s kind of weird.
Levi Stevenson: Then the whole thing backfired because the Big 12 want to play football, obviously, because the numbers are pointing that direction that they can make it work and they follow the SEC and the ACC.
Levi Stevenson: Now you have this thing and then the Big Ten turn around and kind of had a little bit of egg on their face, like, wow, what the hell, nobody else went with us. And now we’re kind of in this. Now they’re kind of like that they might they might backtrack. There was that whole saga there for like like three or four days where we didn’t know, did they take a vote? Did they not take a vote? What was the vote like? Did Iowa, Nebraska try to defect? You know, all this there was this was there was this whole deal was it was it was the most bizarre sports news cycle I think I’ve ever seen.
Levi Stevenson: I remember because it was just going back and forth and back and forth where nobody knew what was going on. Everyone said, well, the president’s voted. The coaches voted. The coaches are like, we didn’t vote. Nobody voted. It’s the weirdest thing. But I think honestly, it comes down to the Big 12 is playing football because they took a risk, I think, and they wanted to have the option to play football, because if you cancel the football season right away, it’s hard to justify being like, well, you know, actually we can play football. It’s hard to come back from that. Whereas if you say we’re going to play football, you always still have the option to cancel later.
Jon Johnston: Earlier, I actually did a interview with a guy named Adam Riley, who is the activities director at Decorah high school in Iowa. Iowa And Nebraska are two states that did not move their high school football season, their high school football is occurring in the state of Iowa and Nebraska. Have you heard much about that? What’s your feedback from anybody going to Iowa high school games?
Levi Stevenson: From everything I’ve heard is that the there’s just as many people and it’s not even a few more at high school football games. And there have been previously and you know, Iowa as a state has spiked in covid cases, but it’s mostly in Iowa City and Ames. It’s the college kids. It’s not the people going to high school football games in Leon, Iowa. I mean, that’s not the problem. That’s not the reason that it was spiking it’s because of the college kids, because they decided they needed to party and stuff like that, which they’re college kids, but they’re college kids. There’s a probably a thousand reasons why. And you can talk for hours and hours and hours of why everything’s spiking, why things are the way they are. But, you know, it’s from everything I’ve heard as far as high school football that so far it’s actually gone pretty well. I haven’t heard of any where there’s been a big outbreak on any team or anything like that in your big outbreak among fans of a certain school or something like that. I haven’t heard about any of that. So it sounds like it’s actually going fairly well now. They’ve only played like one or two games, but, you know, we’re still early. But from what everything that I have heard, it sounds like it’s going fairly well.
Jon Johnston: Iowa State’s season starts September 12 against Louisiana in Ames. Do you think the Big 12 that they’ll be able to carry out a successful football season? If I said put 50 bucks on it, I don’t know, something that would be painful, a hundred bucks.
Levi Stevenson: Sure, yeah, something meaningful. I would be tempted to put money on there being a full season. If you’re taking fans out of the equation, I feel more comfortable about it. I mean, we already don’t have fans in the first game bringing fans like eventually working fans in. I don’t know, that’s a dicey venture because maybe, mathematics, maybe math wise or from the experts excuse me, the health experts say that it’s OK, that it’s going to work. But what are the optics look like? Because if you just say if you haven’t had fans for the first two or three home games and all of a sudden like, let’s have fans and you’re now a whole bunch of people on social media going like, oh, is the pandemic over now? How how do you how do you make the public perception work there, even if all the numbers, even if it was no longer spiking and are plummeting in cases and everything’s looking good, how do you make that work? How do you decide? Well, you know what? We can have fans now is then you then you have to be the guy that decided the pandemic wasn’t an issue anymore. I don’t know. Do you want to take that?
Levi Stevenson: I don’t think Jamie Pollard is necessarily afraid of making that decision, but I think it’s going to affect the decision.
Jon Johnston: Ok, as an Iowa state guy. You got these.. That other school in your same state, the black and gold school, the stinky people that everybody hates at the time out east. I mean, do you, like, gloat? Do you walk around six inches off the ground with a halo?
Levi Stevenson: We’ve been I’ve been tweeting some pretty snarky stuff at Iowa fans, just making fun of football this fall. And I think I was I was talking to one of our podcast sponsors is the Es Stas Bar and Grill in Ames. And we were talking to them about maybe getting some getting surprises together for our sports league and stuff like that just to see if there’s something we can do with them because we like we work with them all the time on all sorts of different things. I was just Twitter, DMing with them back and forth.
Levi Stevenson: But they said something is like something to the effect. I was like, yeah, we could throw in gift cards, some of that. Good to see that Wide Right’s playing more games this fall than Iowa or the Big Ten. We’re enjoying kind of dunking on Iowa a little bit because they don’t get to play football. And all the Iowa fans are just sitting there in their misery like, no, nobody is getting defensive. They want to be playing football. And they’re absolutely envious of the fact that Iowa State has a football season.
Jon Johnston: Have you seen any of them stated they’ll be Iowa State fans this season? r,
Levi Stevenson: Yes, I’ve seen, I’ve seen multiple say I’m hitching my wagon to Iowa State. I mean, I wouldn’t do the same if they didn’t have a football season. I’d be like, nope, I’m whoever. I mean, just like normal. I’d be like, whoever is playing Iowa, I don’t even care. I want them to win.
Levi Stevenson: I don’t even care. I would not return the favor. I know I’m not doing it. Can’t do it. Never will. And it’s interesting because I grew up in eastern Iowa. I still live in eastern Iowa, which is generally speaking, it’s more more Hawk country or whatever. But then I have a lot of like a lot of people on my staff that are from western Iowa. So the relationship that I have with Iowa, where it’s just I can’t stand them, won’t I won’t associate with anything related, nothing, will not do it. I don’t have that same relationship to Nebraska, but the people but my people from western Iowa have that relationship with Nebraska, but not quite to the same extent with Iowa. It’s it’s kind of interesting because there’s the Iowa state, Nebraska thing in western Iowa. Then there’s Iowa and Iowa State in central and eastern Iowa. It’s kind of an interesting dynamic. I don’t have the same necessarily the same animosity towards Nebraska as Iowa State fans from western Iowa. But, you know, we’re still a big old 12 rivals. I like to dish it around when I can.
Jon Johnston: Speculation, it’s what we do a lot. We predict the seasons, we think about who the best players are going to be before they’re actually the best players. Recruiting is constantly ranking recruits before they’ve ever stepped foot on a college football field. Yes, the big 12 can have a successful football season, successful, meaning they actually have a football season and the Big Ten and PAC well done. Do you see any long term effects on the Big Ten?
Levi Stevenson: Oh, one hundred percent. I think we’re already seeing some things that will carry over long term. Like I said before, like sort of alluded to before the Big Ten prior to all of this was was this iron clad conference. Couldn’t touch it, making money hand over fist. Everybody wants to be there. Nobody wants to leave all of this. And then all of a sudden over the course of the last month with the indecision and making decisions without approval of all the schools and maybe some perceived like backstabbing almost, all of a sudden there’s some rivets popping on the battleship.I think the Big Ten is is going to see some serious long term side effects from this. And from everything I read from Iowa and Nebraska fans is that there’s some legitimate, I’m not sure of the best word for it, but some legitimate distaste, I guess, for the Big Ten at this point in time or feeling kind of betrayed, feeling the fact that they were kind of, you know, the conference turned their back on saying, hey, we want to play football. And the conference said, nope. And if you even try, you’re gone. Maybe maybe that’s only just the Twitter perspective.
Levi Stevenson: Maybe it’s only who I saw. But that was the feeling that I got from Nebraska fans and from Iowa fans and I’m from Wisconsin and Minnesota fans. Ohio state, made a whole big deal out of that. Ohio State Ryan Day has been making a big deal out of saying what the hell we want to play. And James Franklin said the same thing. There’s a lot of coaches saying, like, what? No, we want to play like every Big Ten school wants to, like all but like three Big Ten schools want to play and one of them’s probably Northwestern because they don’t wanna play sports ever.
Levi Stevenson: A bunch of them want to play and the big ten is like, nope, we’re not doing it. If you try, you’re gone.
Levi Stevenson: Which is funny because I like to see how well that holds up when Ohio State tries to play a schedule like you really just going to kick out Ohio State. Let’s be real here. They’re half of the reason you make so much money. That threat has not really been put to the test.It’s funny because the Big 12 gets a lot of guff because it was kind of unstable there for a while. But all of a sudden now Big 12 members are all in. We’re ready to do this like we’re like when the next round of realignment comes in.
Levi Stevenson: West Virginia is kind of an odd duck in the conference room. So I could see them maybe trying to kind of realign more geographically, maybe try to get into the ACC or something like that. But generally speaking, aside from West Virginia, I don’t see any team that even considers leaving because the mean Oklahoma and Texas, they’re the big moneymakers, but they get to rule the roost. They make the money. Oklahoma basically gets kind of a free pass to the championship game every year as long as they continue to be Oklahoma. So there’s really no reason for either of them to leave. And now other schools are seeing what the Big 12 is doing with the leadership that’s within the conference, seeing all the other young talent that’s in the conference. And it’s kind of the football is getting better and better and better. It’s an attractive conference right now. And I think the Big 12 is as solid as it’s ever been. Maybe call me biased, but I right now I would call the Big 12 a more a more solid and more unified conference than the Big Ten. I’ve been being totally honest here. I think I think there’s some legitimate, like, animosity from the schools to the conference in the Big Ten.
Levi Stevenson: But maybe I’m just reading stuff on Twitter. But I that’s the impression that I get genuinely. The PAC 12 I don’t think anybody gives a shit about it. So it’s whatever they could they could disappear tomorrow and nobody would care.
Jon Johnston: I don’t even think they would care.
Levi Stevenson: I don’t think they would either. I mean, I remember to go to Oregon, go, that’s cool. You’re like other than that, like that’s the only one or maybe maybe USC like like you can just take Oregon USC slap in the big twelve and get around the rest of the conference. Nobody would even notice.
Jon Johnston: Ok, be honest. Are you enjoying this angst?
Levi Stevenson: I mean, I’m not not enjoying it, but any time I get to rub something in Iowa fans face, I’m not going to turn it down.
Jon Johnston: All of this changed in the span of like eight days and literally went from the Big Ten being, like you said, a long term, stable, very prideful conference to a bucket of poop.
Jon Johnston: Are you OK?
Levi Stevenson: You got me with the bucket of poop line.
Jon Johnston: Well, like I said, I try not to swear on the interview podcast.
Levi Stevenson: Maybe that’s what they stick in that old oaken bucket that they play for the old oaken bucket full of poop.
Jon Johnston: When you heard Scott Frost caught a lot of crap and Nebraska caught a lot of crap. for Desmond Howard, Pat Forde whatever whatever these you know, I’m trying not to swear. There was this thing where Nebraska was going to come back to the big 12. What were your thoughts on that happening? Would you welcome Nebraska back with open arms.
Levi Stevenson: Honestly, I’m personally, like I said, don’t have the animosity towards Nebraska fans. A lot of western Iowa Cyclone fans do. I’d be all about it. I think Nebraska leaving for the Big Ten was a mistake to begin with. I thought it was just a money grab. I think I think they are a hands down better fit for the big 12. I think they are from a culture perspective. From a geographic perspective. I think Nebraska in the Big 12 makes a ton more sense than Nebraska in the Big Ten. I’ve always thought that and I always will. There’s a really great old rivalries there that we’re missing out on, like Nebraska, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa State and Nebraska, Kansas and all this where there’s lots of really good old rivalries there that should be happening.
Levi Stevenson: Like like I’m sorry. You could it can be people can try to force all they want. But Iowa Nebraska, it’s just not there man.
Levi Stevenson: I get it, but it feels forced. It doesn’t it doesn’t feel like a natural rivalry. And it’s not not the same way that I would say in Nebraska or that about Nebraska and Oklahoma or anything like that. Like those are those are natural rivals. Those are rivals. I don’t know how many times I would say Nebraska football, but it’s a shitload like Iowa, Nebraska. I’ve played football like, what, 20 times? Maybe something like that. Like, it’s not a historical rivalry. It’s not a rivalry that anybody really cares about. I did see that someone try some try hard on the Interneto coin Faarmageddon as the Iowa Nebraska rivalry is like let’s no, that’s that’s very clearly Iowa State, Kansas State, like, that’s that’s ours. next year.
Jon Johnston: Next year, West Virginia joins the Big Ten in Nebraska, goes back to the Big 12.
Levi Stevenson: I take that trade.
I like West Virginia. West Virginia culturally is very, very similar to Iowa State. We relate to them very, very well.
Levi Stevenson: But I mean, West Virginia is kind of an odd duck or whatever. And, they’re they’re fun. I’ve really enjoyed them being in the conference. I’d be I’d be like, oh, that’s kind of a bummer. I like West Virginia or whatever, but if I would trade West Virginia for Nebraska, I would. I wouldn’t really even think about it.
Jon Johnston: One of the reasons why Nebraska, you mentioned Money grab. One of the reasons why Nebraska left for the Big Ten was Texases refusal to sign their rights over to the conference. They went off and created the Longhorn Network, got all the money for themselves and left everybody. Left everybody else high and dry.
Jon Johnston: That doesn’t bother you that much?
Levi Stevenson: No because it hasn’t really hasn’t really hurt Iowa State very much. So we created cyclones, dot TV. Oklahoma’s got their own thing.
Levi Stevenson: The Longhorn Network has largely not not really impacted the whole conference. Not not much. Maybe they get a half a million less on their check at the end of the year. Maybe, I guess. It’s not been a big revenue drainer or anything like that, and every in the way and everything, everything is now, too. I mean, TV rights are important, but TV rights are changing. Every every game is on TV, every single one.
Levi Stevenson: Because, what happened is, you know, when the Big Ten, the Big Ten made their network newscast, got their own thing, they got their thing or whatever, the big 12 doesn’t have a big 12 network.
Levi Stevenson: So you know what they did? They turned ESPNU into the Big 12 Network. And now every single person in America that has an extended basic cable package, you can watch every single big 12 game, all of them. You don’t have to get a weird network. You don’t have to pay for a premium conference channel that nobody wants 95% of the year, you just get it. ESPN, like most people have ESPNU, it used to be more of a premium channel, but now most people have it or have or have quick access to it. You can watch every single big 12 game now. And that’s and that’s the important part, is that it was there for exposure. So going forward, the Big 12 is in a good position as far as renegotiating media deals and things like that, because it’s already got it’s already got its infrastructure settled in on ESPN and not just the standalone network. The Big Ten Network has done fairly well for itself with. The PAC 12 Network has flopped epically.
Levi Stevenson: The SEC network handles itself because they’re the SEC. The ACC network, nobody pays for it. That’s a failure. So I mean, you’re batting five hundred on on on standalone networks and one of them is the SEC, which can kind of keep itself before SEC could probably operate, its own conference, totally independent of everybody else and they’d be fine. It honestly didn’t really bother me that much back then, it was the main reason it would have bothered me is if the Big 12 did totally collapse and Iowa State ended up in the MAC or something like that or whatever that was, that was kind of that was that was a possibility.
Levi Stevenson: Hindsight being 20, 20, it didn’t really I mean, the conference didn’t break up and nobody is worse off because Longhorn Network exists.
Jon Johnston: So let’s speculate again, let’s say Iowa State gets two games in and then they the big 12 and the other teams have to fold the rest of the season. What do you see next year? I mean, does it hurt the Big Ten long term? They look like they’re right.
Levi Stevenson: There’s still something to be said for trying and trying to make it work. I don’t think anybody would hold it against the Big 12 executives for trying. If it doesn’t if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. And everybody acknowledges that going and even everybody that was for a football season pretty much fully acknowledged that things can change and stuff and maybe you can’t finish out the season. And that’s what is what it is. But you still tried. And because I mean, college football is so ingrained into the fabric of our society that it’s worth trying because it’s a it’s at least somewhat of a return to normalcy.
Levi Stevenson: It’s a stable foundation you can ground yourself on. And if you have even just three out of five, three out of five power five conferences playing on Saturdays, even without fans, that’s still better than nothing and a just total a complete and total cancelation of the entire season from the very beginning, I think would have been A pretty huge red flag saying that to many people, I think it would have made this feel far less over, like I think people would have felt more insurmountable. I think or at least trying college football is a good idea. I think it’s a good idea to try to get as close back to normal as we can for now. And if if it doesn’t work, you tried and it just didn’t work.
Jon Johnston: Iowa State football 2020 under Matt Campbell. How does it look this season? If we were if this was a normal year and I asked you that question, I said, tell me how good Iowa State is going to be or what the record is going to be like. Give me a brief synopsis of what you’re seeing.
Levi Stevenson: So in the normal season, I think you’re probably looking somewhere in the 9-3, 10-2 range.
Levi Stevenson: They should be very good. I mean, Brock Purdy is one of the best quarterbacks in the country.
Levi Stevenson: There’s Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and there’s kind of another tier right there. There’s a second tier there that’s got Rock Brock Purdy and the kid from North Carolina and Keenan Slovis from USC. And there’s a few other guys that are stuffed in there in that tier two. And Brock, if you ask a lot of college analysts, is sitting in that tier two. He’s a really, really good quarterback because he owns 21 school records. He’s going to own a bunch more at the end of this, even even in a shortened season. He’s going to own a few more. And if he for whatever reason, if he stays past this year, he’s going to own virtually everything, which is kind of funny. That’s that’s an interesting situation, too, because he can technically leave after this year, and I think he probably will. Is it his mock drafts of been looking very, very good, but he could theoretically, if the season got canceled, he could play zero more games and he’d be done. We never seem to have a uniform again. If he he technically, because this year doesn’t count towards eligibility, he could play this year and his two remaining years of eligibility after that and theoretically play up to, I think it counted 43 more games. So somewhere between we’ll see Bradford and I would say uniform somewhere between zero and 43 more times. You’ve got Brock Purdy.
Levi Stevenson: Breece Hall is one of the best young running backs in the country. There ‘s a very deep wide receiver corps. It’s not necessarily a star power like an Allen Zadora Hakeem Butler like we’ve seen in the past. You don’t have that star guy. But as far as just depth of talent and athleticism, no question it’s probably the best one that I would say it’s ever had. I would say also eat your heart out Iowa, because Iowa State is currently is tight end U. Every every single website I’ve ever that I’ve looked at in the preseason as Iowa State, listen, it’s the best tight end unit in the country. Charlie Cutler is is arguably the best tight end in the country. And I’ve got two of them behind them. They’re almost as good. They all do different things.They’ll have two of them the field almost every play. And sometimes they’ll put all three of them on the field. And the three guys behind them are really good, too. Iowa State is set at tight end for the next five to ten years, probably. The whole key on the offense is the offensive line, which is young. You’re replacing three starters, but two of them sucked anyway. So whatever you’re getting, you’re getting to two younger but vastly more talented players and plugging in a third one that’s physically very imposing as Rob Hudley and he’s 6’-8”, 320. He’s going be a guard. So that’s a nice road grader in the middle. So we’ll see how that comes out. But there’s more talent in there than it hasn’t been there for a long time. Flip over to the defensive side of the ball. The secondary is rock solid. You only lose two starters off of the defense from last season. And one of them probably didn’t play up to his potential. The defensive line should be good. It should be good. It’s flush with pass rushers, but we’ll need more. We’ll need help in the interior, especially in run fits, because I would say it runs a three down defense a lot of times that your nose tackle has to be they have to have their shit together, basically.
Levi Stevenson: If they can find a good nose tackle, they can do that and maintain run fits, get a little bit of pressure on the quarterback. The defensive line should be pretty good. The linebackers are solid, lots of experience at the starting line. And then back ups are young, but very talented. But that that secondary is huge, is really, really, really good. Great guys. Worth is probably going to contend for Big Twelve Defensive Player of the year if he can stay healthy. Lawrence, why? It’s been rock solid. It’s safety for a long time. Shane Young will step in and safety seven is the third safety probably. And he’s he’s a hard hitter. He’s redshirt. Freshman D had offers from Penn State and Ohio State in a bunch of other these schools coming out of high school. Then you’ve got a couple of really nice rock solid cars and some good young guys there, too.
Levi Stevenson: I would say it’s been the best has been one of the probably two probably one of the two or three best defenses in the conference for the last three years. Basically, they’re very good. They do a good job. I mean, there’s a lot of there’s a lot of really good stories coming out actually now about how lots and lots of schools and NFL teams have been coming to Iowa State over the last couple of years trying to learn, learn there are three three five stack or three, three or three to six, whatever. The other side morphs quite a bit. But it’s kind of a moderate defense to fit modern offenses because lots of offenses in the NFL, in college football are going towards big twelve style offenses. So you need Big 12 defenses to combat those. And I would say this kind of pioneered that and turn it in. Or really successful unit over the last few years, and I expect that to continue. So you have a unit that’s capable of being top 20, top 15, and last year the offense was top 20. So if they can, I think they should be better off than they should be more consistent on offense and it should be able to take another step forward on defense.
Levi Stevenson: Even in this current season, there is no game, they can’t win, they play Oklahoma at home early in the season. I think they have a pretty solid shot to pick off Oklahoma. The toughest one is at Oklahoma State in a couple of weeks after that. That’s a tough game. Oklahoma State should be pretty good. That’s probably one that I’m sort of expecting not expecting to lose. But I think they’ll I don’t think they’ll win that one. That’s a tough game. But 9-1 is a real is is a it’s within the realm of possibility. Possibility. I think a 9-1 season is certainly a realistic goal. It’s a lofty one. But it’s it’s realistic. It’s definitely doable. And and honestly, if they have a good day against Oklahoma State, an undefeated regular season is not out of the question, which is an really odd thing to say for Iowa State fans.
Levi Stevenson: Nebraska Fans are really not used to hearing that come out of an Iowa state fan. You’re just sitting here like, what the hell is this like? I know. I know. I haven’t been the Big 12 for ten years, but what the hell is happening?
Levi Stevenson: Friggin Iowa State fans up here talking about going undefeated and shit like frickin Twilight Zone.
Jon Johnston: I’m old and crusty and most of my life, we just beat the snot out of Iowa State.We haven’t been to a ball game in three years now?
Levi Stevenson: Iowa State’s been to three straight bowl games.
Jon Johnston: Have you paid attention at all the Nebraska football?
Levi Stevenson: A little bit. I mean, like I said, I don’t have an emotional connection to Nebraska because I didn’t grow up on that side of the state. And I don’t really pay attention to Big Ten football that much, aside from when I get a chance to make fun of Iowa. But I have paid attention a little bit.
Jon Johnston: From an outsider’s perspective, what do you think about Nebraska, Scott Frost, here is your chance to get your shots in, buddy, if you’re fighting way up here? Well, you might be undefeated.
Levi Stevenson: So I think I think Scott Frost is a good cultural fit for Nebraska. I think I think he can be successful there. One thing that people forget or they don’t always realize about Nebraska. So when Nebraska was really, really good, the rules were a little bit different. So there wasn’t scholarship limits. TV was a kind of a thing where there wasn’t a lot of games on TV. But, you know, who was on TV? Nebraska. And they were because they were the Midwest. So Nebraska was always on TV. They got the exposure. So they got lots of really, really big recruits because they were always on TV and they were the Midwest team that was on TV and there was no scholarship limit. So they could just make it hoard all these. They could hoard like they could have one hundred and twenty people on the roster. And so you could hoard all these players, whatever, and they might sit there for four years. But as soon as they’re ready to go, you know, basically a five star recruit that hasn’t played a snap and doesn’t have any tread on it, doesn’t have anywhere on the tires. So we’re playing in a little bit different rules now, whereas everybody’s on TV all the time. We’re a little bit removed from that that area of Nebraska dominance. So the young kids that are going into college now honestly may not have been alive for the last time. Nebraska was considered a really elite program. So that’s part of it.
Levi Stevenson: That’s an uphill battle. So the nice part is that other recruits like didn’t know and have been never heard of Iowa State before they start recruiting them. So we’re starting off on a blank slate. It’s great. But but people like no Nebraska or whatever, but the young kids weren’t the kids that are that the recruiting now weren’t alive for when Nebraska was a really, really elite program. They were still I mean, they were still good into the mid two thousands and late. But they weren’t they weren’t 90s Nebraska, you know, they’re different, different program. So that’s part of it. And I think there’s the level of exposure is different. There’s the scholarship limits that I think is a legit thing now to where it’s harder for teams to hoard lots and lots and lots of really good players, kind of like Nebraska, which would worked for I’m not going to knock them for doing that. It worked great for them. But we’re playing it by a little bit different rules now. This is probably going to hurt to say, but I think Nebraska fans may want to re-gage where they sit among the college football echelon. I know it hurts to say. I know it hurts to hear. But I just from an outsider’s perspective, I think it might be time to reengage just a little bit because for being realistic. There’s not much around Lincoln. Somehow Lincoln is actually farther away from like stuff than Ames. You have Omaha there. But what’s after Omaha?
Jon Johnston: Just so you know this, when you say reengage, what I am hearing is Nebraska should come back to the big 12 and kick all y’alls asses into the ground.
Levi Stevenson: Honestly, the big 12 is a good time. Now, all we do, we just have fun we sling the football around. We score points. We have a good time. College say we don’t play defense all you want, but you know who has fun playing football? Big 12 has fun playing football. We don’t have the 17-14 slugfests and shit like that. Give me, give me a 42-38 game on every day of the week. You have to get some damn points.
Jon Johnston: You know you have Kirk Ferenz punting.
Levi Stevenson: Well that’s true from the Yeah. Punting from the opponents 35 yard line. Yeah.
Jon Johnston: Ok, before you make that last statement, I was going to ask you this question, but perhaps it’s too late. You may be able to recover. We’ll see how good a politician you are. Make your case as to why Nebraska fans should be Iowa State fans this season.
Levi Stevenson: Ok, well, one, we’re playing football. You’re not.
Jon Johnston: I’m bleeding here. I’m just cutting myself every time you say that.
Levi Stevenson: Brock Purdy, if you watch him play, he’s probably going to remind you a lot of Adrian Martinez is a very similar quarterback here, and you would probably find some similarities there. We play a lot of your old rivals. We play Oklahoma, we play around, know we play Oklahoma, Kansas State, play Kansas. We play everybody. We play a lot of the old rivals. So you get to see a lot of those play. You get to see an exciting brand of football because the offense plays and it is a very efficient offense. They were top fifteen in the country last year in yards per play. They have a really good solid defense, a little bit different then different than you used to seeing in the big ten, where you have the big hogmollies on front lines out there and we run 4-3 and shit like that. Like now we have we have athletes with speed and stuff like that.
Levi Stevenson: But, you know, so you get to see a different style of football. You get to see an exciting offense, you get to see all your old rivals. And I would say it’s probably going to beat them or whatever. Honestly, if Iowa State goes less than7-3, I think it will be considered a pretty massive disappointment. But you’re going to see good football. You’re going to see against old rivals. You’re going to see football, you’re going to see to see lots of points go up. You’re going to see a good defense. I mean, it’s close, it’s close by, you might we have guys on on the the team that play that are from western Iowa. Some Nebraska fans may know some of these guys, if they if they’re if they’re Nebraska fans from western Iowa, you know, they probably they might know some of these guys. They probably you probably have family members that are Iowa State fans.So there’s infinite reasons for Nebraska to cheer for Iowa State.
Jon Johnston: Out of all of that. I think number one response that I am going to take is this and it’s not your playing and we’re not because that just hurts me.
Levi Stevenson: I had to I had to drop it. I was like, well, we’re playing football. I’m sure that’s a good reason.
Jon Johnston: I think you should probably just make t shirts and drive into the Big Ten campuses in areas.
Levi Stevenson: Yeah. Like how we’re playing football and you’re not.
Jon Johnston: That’s probably what I’m going to entitle this episode to be shot later. But I took away from all of that is that if Nebraska fans want to irritate the entire Big 12, we should root for Iowa State because they would hate to lose to you.
Levi Stevenson: The thing, though, is that Iowa State has a reputation in the Big 12, like we’re like nobody really hates. I mean, some Kansas state we don’t get for some reason. I don’t know. We used to get along really well with Kansas State fans the last couple of years.
Jon Johnston: They used to hate us and now they can hate you.
Levi Stevenson: They hate everybody.
Levi Stevenson: I don’t know why. They’re bitter.
Jon Johnston: They are bitter people.
Levi Stevenson: It’s funny, though, is that because as good as they’ve been for a long time and as bad as I would say it has been for a long time, Iowa State still owns the all time series over Kansas State. Bill Snyder, I don’t care. Or we beat him in his last ever football, the last football game you ever coach. You lose Iowa State and I’m fine with that. But, you know, aside from some Kansas State fans, nobody in the Big 12 really hates us. We’re kind of everybody’s drinking, buddy. It’s funny because, like. Nobody really likes to play us because they don’t want to lose to Iowa State, so we’ve got that kind of that brand or oh, these guys these guys aren’t good at football. But but also now we’re kind of good at football. So they don’t like losing to us for that reason. But then, you know, then there’s also like that we’re kind of friends of these people we don’t like, you know, we’re happy to beat you because we want to win football games. Iowa State is not really the kid that the Big 12 likes to bully up on or anything like that.
Jon Johnston: So is there anything else that you would like to say to Nebraska fans before we go?
Jon Johnston: Are there any knives, are there any kind of try to think of I’ve got to to any kind of Marvel Comics superpower you want to crush is into the ground with? You have the Hulk out and used.
Levi Stevenson: I’m trying to think of if I’ve got any like anything up my sleeve that I can like one just one more dagger. I can plunge into the heart. You know, it’s funny, though, because this season I think Iowa State should be able to rack up roughly the same amount of wins as they forced turnovers Last time Iowa State played in Lincoln, so. Would be eight, I believe, remember correctly?
Jon Johnston: Oh, my God. Why did I ask you here?
Levi Stevenson: I don’t even know, man, this is on you. This is on you that you got this podcast.
Jon Johnston: You know, in the week after that game, the week after that game, I had to take a physical and I drank a lot. I went in to take the physical. And before I took the physical, they give you this mental health questionnaire? I scratched all the way through it. And it came to this one of these questions. Where have you ever thought of taking your own life and I scratched it out and wrote in? Have you ever thought of faking your own death? The doctor walked in and I had this mental health questionnaire And she looks at me and I say, We lost to Iowa State with eight turnovers, 9-7. And think five of those turnovers were at the 10 yard line or something.
Levi Stevenson: They’re all like there’s a bunch of them where they just like dropped them, like on the goal line. And Iowa State recovered in the end zone and it’s like, OK, yeah.
Levi Stevenson: And she said, do you think you have a drinking problem? I looked at her and I’m like, what? Do you not understand anything about men and sports? I mean, you’re wise enough to know...
Levi Stevenson: Iowa State had their backup quarterback game. The starter wasn’t even playing, it was the backup.
Jon Johnston: I was at the 92 Iowa State, Nebraska, and at that game, I helped Iowa State fans tear down your goalpost when the upset happened. I think I’ve had enough and I probably should go to the doctor now, not only get my head examined, but all these flesh wounds probably fixed so that I’m not going to bleed to death in my sleep tonight. This has been Jon’s Postlife Crisis in a very special episode with somebody who’s playing football when we’re not this fall. Those bastards from Iowa State. Thank you, Levi, You SOB for joining me.
Levi Stevenson: Thank you for having me.